Cathy Davys recently interviewed Carl Keely, a New Zealander based in Melbourne, who has won over 200 awards with his team and is hairdressing royalty, plus an amazingly talented photographer! Carl is honoured to be one of the judges for the creative section of The Industry Awards 2021 to be held in November, with entries closing on 14 September 2021.
What is your advice for entrants?
The stuff that comes out of New Zealand is just exciting. You should definitely have a goal in mind, in this case The Industry Awards is an excellent goal.
Take the time to create a mood board based on research, where you think things are going and what you think you have to offer. Then really refine that mood board with your sequence of shots, your models, your practice work and really working your team to keep them all on the same page.
On the day, everyone needs to know exactly what you’re wanting to achieve and how to get the desired outcome, because on the day of the shoot, there's a lot of pressure and you don't want to be making things up on the day under pressure. That is my main piece of advice and as a photographer, I'm super strict with that. There's a lot of time pressure. There's a lot of money pressure. There's a lot of people looking at you as the hairdresser and if you don't have the ability to produce it right then it gets stressful.
What about for stylists just starting out?
I did my first photographic competition as a hairdresser in 1989 in Auckland and I didn't have any funds. I had a fantastic employer that was backing me, and we found a student photographer and we had a client that looked like she could do a bit of modelling. You know, we sort of just cobbled it together and I either came second or won it, I don’t quite remember.
I then thought, I can do this. You’ve just got to start. And luckily now you’ve got phones, you know - I'm a dinosaur, so back in those days we had film. There was no feedback on the day. It was, take the photo and hope for the best. Now I can see if we’ve got an image or not immediately.
These days if you've got an iPhone you can start shooting. You can start to train your eye.
What looks good on camera is not the same as what looks good in real life. There's a really big difference. You've got to change gears and change brains to feed the camera what it needs.
And the iPhone is perfect. You know it costs you nothing to take a shot.
What are you looking for when judging?
I'm looking for hair. I know that sounds like a really boring answer but I'm looking for the best hairdresser, I want to see interesting hair. Exciting hair. I've been a hairdresser since 1988. I've seen a lot of hair. I still get excited when I see someone create really good hair. I really want to look, and be interested to look even further and spend longer exploring what's been created.
Obviously, model selection is massive. The better the model the better the chance. You can have fantastic hair, a fantastic model and you're pretty much on the way there because the person taking the photo doesn't have to do anything. It's just all there in front of them.
I always start with the hair. Interesting concepts, interesting shape, texture, colour, balance - the normal things we look for in the salon every day.
I want to see something that explores and celebrates our craft. I want to sense the amount of workmanship that's gone into that hair and appreciate that. I want to see something that's like - Wow that's amazing.
If you get me or any other judge thinking to themselves, how did they do that? Then you’re a step closer to picking up that trophy.
We want to be intrigued by the hair and of course it's got to be beautiful and beautiful comes in many many costumes. It doesn't have to be traditionally beautiful. It can be different-beautiful. It can be alternate-beautiful. There's got to be something in there though that catches the eye and makes you want to look further.
I don't want to see the photographer or the retoucher. I don't want to see that hand being played. I have a lot of people asking how much photoshop and compositing of hair goes on. Honestly, there's a lot, you know, a lot goes on behind the scenes and I don't like it necessarily. I don't do a lot of photo manipulation of hair. If it's not good hair, I'm not going to make good hair in photoshop for you. That's just a rule. If you can't produce on the day, it's not going to happen.
You should never turn to the photographer and say, can you fix this in post? Can we do this or do that? My answer is no. If you can't do the hair, you don't deserve to win. It's about the hairdresser creating, otherwise to me it's cheating.
It doesn't mean we don't clean up skin and enhance a few things but I'm not putting a different half a head of hair on someone.
Competing is part of the journey. It takes a long time to make a great hairdresser. Competitions are one of the ways you can speed things up. Get yourself out there yourself. Be seen, get some feedback. Whether it's good or bad, I learn more from losing than winning.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Back in the day we used to have magazines and that's not a thing anymore. But I have magazines that are very old. I used to collect Italian Vogue for decades. I've got piles of them. I have a large archive of photographic work from hairdressing. Both my wife and I will pick up things and save things on our phone and digital archives and we'll share those back to the team.
Obviously, fashion is a thing. It's hard right now. There's not a lot going on but music is probably the biggest mover. So, if you're watching and consuming music, you're basically understanding culture today. I consume a lot of music videos and audio and I consume a lot of music outside of my normal playlist. So I get a lot of inspiration that way.
If you want to watch Cathy and Carl's chat, head over to The Industry Awards Instagram page, where we'll be posting the highlights in a five part series!
Entries into The Industry Awards 2021 are still being accepted until September 14, but while you’re working hard to create an awesome entry, you might be wondering how we select our winners.
Our judges come from a wide variety of backgrounds and bring a wealth of experience across the hair, beauty and barbering industries. We have some experienced Industry Awards judges back on board this year and we’re also welcoming some brand new judges.
First up, we’ll be introducing the judges for our creative hairdressing categories. Stay tuned for further blogs introducing the judges for the creative barbering, training and business categories
Sally is co-owner of Brooks & Brooks salon in Holborn, London, along with Jamie Brooks. She’s won some 60 awards with her creative team including London Hairdresser of the Year three times. Sally was named British Hairdresser of the Year at the British Hairdressing Awards in 2017, 2018, and 2020, and was the first female hairdresser to be nominated for and win the title since 2006. She was also named as the Fellowship for British Hairdressing’s Hairdresser of the Year for 2019/2020.
Sally loves simplicity with a twist, enjoying not only the end result, but the thought process behind it. Creating something that looks simple but is actually difficult is what challenges Sally; trying to be original and challenging herself is what keeps her inspired. Being satisfied with “just OK” is never an option. Sally and Jamie’s philosophy has always been simple, love your job, love your clients and strive to be the best you can.
Originally from New Zealand, Carl travelled the world before settling in Melbourne and founding his salon group Chumba, with his wife Belinda Keeley in 2003. As the dual head of Chumba, their teams have won in excess of 200 awards including multiple Hair Expo and AHFA trophies.
As an industry educator Carl has toured the world and continues to teach and educate the industry. Finding a passion and panache for photographic work, Carl explored life behind the lens and quickly began racking up awards both in Australia and internationally.
With a passion for mentoring the next hair generation, Carl continues to look for talent to bring into the spotlight. Carl enjoys the varied work hairdressing has provided, but what Carl enjoys most of all is the one day a week he spends on the salon floor.
New Zealand born Richard Kavanagh, left school at the age of 15 and was told “you will not amount to anything boy.” Richard is now a five time Australian Session Stylist of the Year recipient, having styled cover shoots, celebrities, hair shows and fashion shows in a session career any hairdresser could only dream of, spanning over two decades and traversing the globe.
Thanks to his mum who wanted Richard to do an apprenticeship, he has had his skill and trade qualifications to lean on in an industry that is always evolving.
Richard’s tips to aspiring stylists; “Get really good at the basics. Be flexible. Pay attention to everything, and smile.”
Lex Buckley, together with partner Sheryl, are the publishers of the well-known and well-read Images Magazine. Now in its 20th year, Images has earned an international reputation and was awarded an Intercoiffure Global Press Award Paris in 2009.
Lex says; “With a keen interest in photography, I have an eye for the ‘money shot’ which is stunning enough for a magazine editorial or front cover. My focus while judging the submitted images this year will be on the total look and feel of the shot; for example, does it tell a story? Is it visually exciting?”
This will be Lex’s sixth year judging the Editorial Stylist of the Year awards – as a stalwart of the industry and with a keen eye for detail, we’re excited to have him on board again this year and we truly value his experience and support.